Simple, sunny, silly illustrations brilliantly convey the complexities and joys one can unearth when tilling a garden of...

POMELO'S OPPOSITES

Pomelo, a diminutive, round-eyed, pink elephant child, discovers opposites in his garden world.

Sometimes satisfyingly clear and sometimes comically questionable, all 58 of Pomelo’s opposites engage and delight. Are polka-dot mushrooms really the opposite of striped mushrooms? Many pairings challenge young readers with sophisticated humor, hinting at tacit desires and subtle feelings. In one spread, Pomelo appears with a lustrous head of blond hair with “dream” appearing beneath; on the accompanying page, a bald head sits atop his body with “reality” stamped below. Pomelo’s eyes look identically plaintive in both portraits—a perfect punch line. These illustrations, rich with implicit suggestions, prompt parents to offer explanations or (better yet!) solicit interpretations from their children. Some opposites, thankfully, are just downright silly. Watch Pomelo, whose body crosses the book’s gutter, open w-i-d-e for a round, red fruit (“in”) on the left page, and see his tail raised to expel an identically spherical poo (“out”) on the right. The book’s pace quickens as it advances, and more and more quirky, nonsensical, complicated pairings crop up. The speedy delivery of associations starts to feel like an exciting, wild ride. Images, words and meanings volley back and forth, bouncing from page to page and between this clever book and readers’ imaginations.

Simple, sunny, silly illustrations brilliantly convey the complexities and joys one can unearth when tilling a garden of language. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: July 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59270-132-2

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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